SARANAC - Whenever you can make a living out of doing something you like, it's an opportunity worth taking - just ask Anne Lenox Barlow.
Recently, Lenox Barlow made the decision to leave her post of two years as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County to pursue a more hands-on challenge as a greenhouse apprentice.
"As part of my position, I worked with local growers, and one of them was Ken Campbell," said Lenox Barlow, referring to the owner of Campbell's Greenhouse. "Since I started [at CCE], Ken was looking to phase out of his business and he always asked me if I knew anyone interested in taking over his business."
Lenox Barlow said she always told Campbell she would keep her "ears open" for anyone interested, and admitted she never gave a thought to taking on the challenge herself.
However, Lenox Barlow, her husband, and their two children eventually began visiting with Campbell in their spare time and the idea was presented to her.
"We'd come up on the weekends and pick berries and hang out with him. Eventually, Ken started asking if I would ever be interested. So, I started thinking about it."
The biggest factors that led to Lenox Barlow leaving a job she loves, she said, were for a chance to be outdoors more and having a schedule that would be more conducive to raising two small children.
"It's kind of a risk to leave a job that's partially tax-funded to take on a business, but, the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is something I'd love to do," she said. "How many times does somebody offer to teach you the business before they hand it over to you? It's an opportunity I really couldn't pass up."
Over the next few years, Lenox Barlow will work closely under Campbell's tutelage, drawing on his decades of experience and eventually taking over for the man who has established Campbell's Greenhouse as a familiar name in the North Country.
When choosing his successor, Campbell said it was important to find someone with the right skill sets and technical knowhow to see the business thrive for many years to come. "Anne has the college background and background in agriculture that we're looking for," he said, referring to Lenox Barlow's degrees from Penn State University and the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "She has new ideas and the ability to bring us into the electronic era, which is critical today."
That's important because people have depended on his business since the late 1970s to bring them the freshest produce possible, whether it be directly from his business, local farmers markets or restaurants he supplies.
"Locals depend on me from Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake," said Campbell. "They know I'm here. They know they can depend on me. They know the quality that's here. That's why it's important it continues on that same path."
And, that path will continue, said Lenox Barlow. Rotating seasonal crops such as bedding plants, greens and berries will continue to be offered, with the addition of new items such as artichokes and strawberries in the coming months and years to be among increased choices for customers, she said.
"We look forward to a good season and, now that Anne's on board, we especially look forward to a more productive and innovative crop variety," added Campbell. "The transition over the next few years should be great."
"It should be fun," said Lenox Barlow.
(Editor's Note: Those who enjoy reading Anne Lenox Barlow's column, North Country Gardening, will still find her weekly contribution - now as a private citizen - in this newspaper. Due to a technical error, this week's column was unable to be inserted into this edition. Look for it next week!)